Building rumours 13: apartments everywhere
I had to make a correction to my previous Building Rumours post, because it seems I had my wires crossed, and Serepisos is apparently planning his tower for Lambton Quay rather than Willis St. I'm still not sure about this, as the suggested site (somewhere near Cable Car Lane) is already pretty full of tall buildings, and it seems hard to work out where another might be squeezed in. That 76 Willis St site is still the subject of a planned development though, and while it's being advertised for sale at the moment, there's talk that the original developer's plans are still being progressed through the consent process. There's a mysterious website that promises to reveal all shortly, and I wonder whether it's any coincidence that the site is designed by a company that also lists ArcHaus as a client.
Meanwhile, there's plenty of more reliable apartment development news to pass on. The most publicised is the Monument development on the corner of Wakefield and Tory streets, which complement the Piermont apartments announced back in January. The combined development has fairly blocky proportions, but I quite like it nonetheless. The Monument building doesn't have quite as much spatial variety as the Piermont, but the contrast with its neighbour, the corner treatment, and the way that the double-height apartments rise in "stacks" slightly separate from the rest of the building, all combine to break down the mass just slightly. The random patterning in the glass is a fairly arbitrary way of adding some decoration to simple façades, but it all gives the impression of a quality development and a decent contribution to the streetscape. Well, at least it's better than the Warehouse.
Which is more than I'd say for Richmastery's latest assault on Taranaki St: two 13-storey blocks shoehorned onto the corner of Taranaki and Wigan streets. There are some token attempts to break up the monotony of the surfaces, but while it's hard to tell from these poor-quality images, somehow I just don't get the feeling that it will get the benefit of exquisite detailing and fine materials. At least their previous attempt across the road seems to have been knocked back to some extent by the planners: the latest word is that the new version of the Q on Taranaki development will be lower and not result in the demolition of the old Murdoch factory. It remains to be seen whether it's actually going to be a decent building, but it's good to hear that the rules are having some effect.
Further down Taranaki, there's an even taller pair of towers on the way at number 72. But these ones seem to benefit from the extra height, with the southern tower in particular looking nicely slender from this angle. I'm not sure about the angled roof planes, and it's hard to tell whether the detailing and materials will be any good, but it might not be too bad. Sixteen stories seems awfully high for Te Aro, but this is actually in the transition zone between the high- and low-city zones, and there are a few buildings in the vicinity of comparable height (though funnily enough, not shown in this sketch). It should certainly be more appropriate here than further up Taranaki St, and replacing a fairly nondescript office block is better than knocking down a pleasant little Art Deco building with a well-known mural.
I'm encouraged by the increase in density that this represents (and as at 2006, Te Aro was still less dense than Mt Victoria in terms of residential population), but less so by the quality of architecture. It ranges from fairly decent through mediocre to downright nasty. What will it take to get something truly stunning and innovative like this? Come on Mr Serepisos, if you really want to be remembered positively by Wellingtonians, take the punt on something magnificent.